'Tis the Season – Of Love!

(Jodah, Archmage Eternal | Art by Yongjae Choi)

Happy Valentine's Day!

Today's story will be a poignant one. We will build a deck around the Love Song of Night and Day, led by Jodah, Archmage Eternal.


History

The poem Love Song of Night and Day was written by Jenny Scott, a long-time editor at Wizards of the Coast as part of the worldbuilding for Jamuraa (a continent on Dominaria), and was used as an in-story source of flavor text for the two sets that take place there, Mirage and Visions.

  • Sep 1996
    • Mirage is released with 11 cards featuring flavor text from the Love Song of Night and Day.
  • Jan 1997
    • Visions is released with an additional 6 cards featuring quotes from the poem.
  • Apr 2003
  • Jun 2018
    • As part of Magic's 25th anniversary celebration at Grand Prix Las Vegas, head designer Mark Rosewater reads the poem during a wedding ceremony.
  • Today
    • Let's build a deck!

Critical Analysis

Please go read the poem if you haven't already. Then watch (or re-watch) the 1985 cult classic, Ladyhawke and compare the two. Yeah, I went there. And yes, it's Ladyhawke with an “e” – welcome to the 1980s.

While obviously set in a different, fantastical, cultural milieu, the movie pre-dates the poem by a decade, so one has to wonder just how much influence it had on Jenny Scott's writing. Both are loved regardless, it's just fun to explore these kinds of connections.


Required Cards

Before figuring out what our path should be, let's get a sense of where we are, starting with the 17 cards that define our theme. We can identify them visually using the advanced search features of scryfall.com. This search shows us all the cards whose flavor text includes segments of the poem.

(Keep in mind that the list below is programmed to show recent printings of these cards, and sometimes reprints lose or change flavor text over time. We'll be sure to include the versions of the cards that contain the poem when built in paper.)

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So we see that the majority of cards are green and/or white, with one card each of mono-red and mono-blue, no mono-black cards, and then two multi-colored cards that include blue, red, and black. While we could cut a few cards to avoid playing five colors, I'm not a fan of that plan. Our deck is focused on a theme, not whomever we choose for our commander, and that theme is the poem. Cutting cards with relevant flavor text from our Vorthosian creation would be worse than a cEDH deck pilot replacing their Force of Will with Cancel.

Beyond that, if we were to cut cards in order to streamline our deck's color identity, Unfulfilled Desires would be the first one on the chopping block. This is bad because that card's flavor text is the poem's final stanza; we would be cutting the poignant message that is the work's culmination. So that's a big no. We'll just need to find an appropriate 5-color commander, and EDHREC can help us with that.


Commander Selection

Looking at the list of 5-color commanders, a lot of them immediately disqualify themselves; we're looking for a Human, or at the least someone human-like. Avatars, Artifacts, Slivers, Spirits, Elementals, Illusions, and Atogs are all no good. That leaves us with three choices: General Tazri, Jodah, Archmage Eternal, and Najeela, the Blade-Blossom.

The Unknowable Ladies

We literally know nothing about Najeela beyond the fact that she fights in Valor's Reach, so any love story we weave with her is pure fanfiction. General Tazri isn't much better, except that the fanfic with her and Gideon is likely to be a couple of years old at this point. That just leaves Jodah.

Jodah, Archmage Eternal

We know of two romances in which Jodah has been a participant during his 4,000+ years of life. Sima was Jodah's wife from before his immortality had become evident. More recently though, he and Jhoira were in a relationship that didn't work out despite their obvious similarities and ability to work well together.

Wait...now doesn't that just sound familiar? You read the poem, right?

Obviously Jodah didn't write the poem for Jhoira. Although both immortals are older than the events that transpired as part of the Mirage War, they would not meet until 300 years after that war's end. But it's likely that they both would have known of the poem's existence, and that's good enough for us.

Jodah ftw!


The Plan

1 commander plus 17 themed cards plus 38 lands leaves us with 44 slots to fill. Now we have to ask ourselves, "How much effort do we put into expanding on our theme(s), versus making the deck functional?"

I definitely want to include some cards that represent the other half of the love story, namely Jhoira. Next, because of the diversity of effects represented in the theme cards, I'd like to find at least one additional card that synergizes with each, in order to reduce the frequency of their being dead draws. Finally, it would probably be a mistake to forget cards that synergize with Jodah's ability, but we can also keep that in mind when filling out our other categories.

Additionally, I see no reason to exclude one version of Jhoira in favor of the other. Jhoira of the Ghitu lets us cheat casting costs, which high-CMC spells and gives us commander redundancy. This version of her represents the relationship at its “best.” In contrast, Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain represents the relationship after it has ended – still able to work well and coordinate with Jodah, but having been unfulfilled by their time together.


Theme Cards

Let's move on to the 17 cards that bear flavor text taken from the Love Song of Night and Day, and find ways to make them all useful to our deck. One way to do that is to search for our required cards on EDHREC, and look at the other cards that they are actually used with in other decks. Plus, pairing these cards up together is perfectly on-theme for Valentine's day!


Blinding Light -> Celestial Dawn

In a singleton format, Blinding Light is really only useful for setting up an alpha strike, but our 5-color deck isn't going to restrict itself to white creatures. Fortunately, Mirage has just what we need in the form of Celestial Dawn, which has the additional benefit of making our commander easier to use.


Femeref Knight -> Telim'Tor

There are not a lot of Flanking-matters cards for Femeref Knight and friends, but fortunately Telim'Tor also gives us another legendary creature with which we can trigger Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain.


Remedy -> Selfless Squire

There are only two cards in all of Magic: the Gathering that trigger off of damage being prevented. Fortunately Selfless Squire is a solid card on its own, and it can benefit from our using Remedy on ourselves.


Zhalfirin Knight -> Cavalry Master

I really wanted to put Kwende, Pride of Femeref in this slot for the historic trigger, but there isn't enough other First Strike to justify it. So instead, Zhalfirin Knight and friends can have additional Flanking support with Cavalry Master.


Kukemssa Pirates -> Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa

While the abilities of Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa and Telim'Tor don't play well together, Kukemssa Pirates don't care, and leaving Telim'Tor on defense is still a good option.


Flare -> Death Pits of Rath

Don't think of Flare as bad removal, think of it as a political tool... unless you have Death Pits of Rath out.


Early Harvest -> Mirari's Wake

Early Harvest lets us multiply our mana (with a tax), and Mirari's Wake lets us multiply that multiplier, but don't forget the Harvest's political applications. We'll be building our mana base out of basics, fetches, and slow fetches in order to maximize our use of Early Harvest and other cards we haven't yet discussed. And of course, it plays well with Celestial Dawn.


Mortal Wound -> Muldrotha, the Gravetide

Mortal Wound is essentially a one-shot Death Pits of Rath; if only we had a way to recur it, and our weenie creatures, and our fetchlands, and... oh, hello Muldrotha, the Gravetide!


Panther Warriors -> Burning Anger

What synergizes with a one-off vanilla creature like Panther Warriors and is still useful to the rest of your deck? Burning Anger fits, but if your build needs something cheaper, consider Sinstriker's Will.


Summer Bloom -> Crucible of Worlds

Summer Bloom doesn't have the raw power in Commander that it does in Modern, unless we have a bunch of land in our graveyard and Crucible of Worlds, or...


Village Elder -> Ramunap Excatavor

...a Ramunap Excavator in play. Combined with Muldrotha, we now have three ways to recur the Forests that will be sac'd to Village Elder.


Wild Elephant -> Bow of Nylea

You play Commander, so you probably know about the interaction between trample and deathtouch. Wild Elephant, meet Bow of Nylea.


Simoon -> Pestilent Spirit

It's a shame that Simoon targets a single opponent, rather than affecting all opponents, but at least Pestilent Spirit adds a second option for making its damage lethal.


Unfullfilled Desires -> Font of Agonies

I'm not sure I have any more Unfulfilled Desires after the printing of Font of Agonies, because it fulfilled all my desires, but we'll want to add more cards that require paying life to really take advantage of it. Treasonous Ogre, the fixed Channel on-a-stick, comes to mind.


Zebra Unicorn -> Celestial Mantle

Zebra Unicorn agrees with the Kukemssa Pirates regarding Sidar Kondo of Jamuura, and also wants to express some Burning Anger, but feels it could do a better job all around if it had some help in the form of a Celestial Mantle.


Chariot of the Sun -> Floodgate

This is how the Johnnies and Jennies rolled in 1996, and now you can too! Chariot of the Sun is already an enabler, so it's not easy finding something that enables it. Fortunately, Mirage has again provided its own answer in the form of Floodgate. Feel free to cut it from your build though, then stick in a big creature that doesn't already fly, like Kozilek, Butcher of Truth.


Sands of Time -> Awakening

Welcome to our deck's soft-lock win-con enablement team. With both in play on our opponents' turns, put the Sands of Time trigger on the stack first, then the Awakening trigger. Awakening will resolve first, untapping all their creatures and lands, then Sands of Time will tap them all again. Note that they can tap things after Awakening resolves, but before Sands of Time does, so will still have their mana, but you still deprive everyone of their defensive creatures. On your turn, reverse the order that the triggers go on the stack, allowing you to:

  1. Tap all your lands and artifacts for mana;
  2. Sands untaps them all;
  3. Tap them all again for mana;
  4. Awakening re-untaps them;
  5. Activate Planar Bridge a couple times and still have all untapped mana sources.

The Rest

We need another 20 cards. From here we should be able to take our cues from one of three sources: Jodah's commander page on EDHREC, one of several deck techs done by various YouTube content creators, or Joseph Schultz's Commander Showdown article featuring Jodah. I leave that exploration as an exercise for the reader, but here are the final results of mine:

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Day and Night

I hope you enjoyed this exploration through Magic's epic poetry, and I hope Jodah and Jhoira are able to find comfort in the epic journey this deck put them through.

Have a lovely Valentine's Day, and we'll see you next time!

Mike is a stay-at-home-father of two, and former online games developer. He's been playing Magic off-and-on since Antiquities, when he would organize Grand Melee side events at conventions. Although he plays to win, he does so with decks that are fun to play, preferring social experiences to competitive ones. His first Commander was Grimgrin, Corpse-Born, which is fitting because he was employed by Disney at the time.